THE BLOG

Liverpool Museum Develops Innovative Approach to Helping Alzheimer's Sufferers With 'Memory Suitcase'

20/05/2014 12:21 BST | Updated 16/07/2014 10:59 BST

Carol Rogers, the executive director for Education and Communities at National Museums Liverpool, came up with a project that is having a powerful impact on those suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The project is known as House of Memories, and its goal is simple: to train caretakers to use memories as a resource in dementia care. The project was recently nominated by the Alzheimer's Society's first Dementia Friendly Awards, an effort sponsored by the Llyods Banking Group and Supported by the publication The Telegraph. These awards are designed to recognize different organizations and individuals who help make their communities more dementia-friendly.

The effort from Rogers and her team began three years ago when they began talking to families and caregivers of those with dementia. The goal of these talks was to help create a program that would help the museum support and encourage the victims of Alzheimer's. The effort quickly took off, and the team raised more than £800,000 in grant money. Using that financial support the team developed a training program that works with caretakers, teaching them to use everyday items from the patient's past to stimulate conversations with those suffering from Alzheimer's.

The program allows participants to borrow a "memory suitcase," or an item that is filled with things such as old football programs, soap, and wartime nylons. The goal of the suitcase and of all of the efforts in the program is to remind dementia patients of life growing up in Liverpool. The museum also conducts walking tours, designed to help those with Alzheimer's to recall memories of the city and their time growing up in the area. For those who can't attend these walking tours, the museum has created a new app for tablets that can be customized to the city the patient grew up in.

The effort took off tremendously and is quickly spreading through more cities than just Liverpool. Now the program is available across all areas of England, and the effort has successfully trained more than 5,000 caretakers. As the House of Memories program continues to take off, their goals have become clear. This organization is not attempting to find a cure or to pour millions of dollars into research, but instead to help make the dementia journey more bearable for everyone involved. The program is currently active in several cities across England and is progressing at rapid rates around the country.